Matters of the Heart: A History of Interracial Marriage in New Zealand
A history of the intimate relations between Māori and Pākehā, and the intersections of public policy and private life. Philip Soutar died at Ypres in 1917. Before becoming a soldier, Soutar’s life revolved around his farm at Whakatāne, where he lived with his Māori wife Kathleen Pine in an ‘as-you-please marriage, uncelebrated by a clergyman’. Matters of the Heart introduces us to couples like Philip and Kathleen to unravel the long history of interracial relationships in New Zealand. That history runs from whalers and traders marrying into Māori families in the early nineteenth century through to the growth of interracial marriages in the later twentieth. It stretches from common law marriages and Māori customary marriages to formal arrangements recognised by church and state. And that history runs the gamut of official reactions—from condemnation of interracial immorality or racial treason to celebration of New Zealand’s unique intermarriage patterns as a sign of us being ‘one people’ with the ‘best race relations in the world’. In the history of intimate relations between Māori and Pākehā, public policy and private life were woven together. Matters of the Heart reveals much about how Māori and Pākehā have lived together in this country and our changing attitudes to race, marriage and intimacy.
‘Exploring a surprisingly unspoken part of New Zealand’s history, Wanhalla’s book is, by turns, heart-warming and heart-rending. Love, when it comes with colonial strings, can hurt. This important book, with its detailed research and long time span, tells why. It is powerful history.’ – Charlotte Macdonald
Angela Wanhalla is a Kai Tahu historian and senior lecturer in the history department at the University of Otago. She specialises in the histories of cultural encounter in New Zealand’s colonial past, focusing on gender, race and colonialism in the nineteenth century, the indigenous history of the North American West, and the history of intimacy, particularly interracial relationships and hybridity. She is the author of In/visible Sight: The Mixed-Descent Families of Southern New Zealand (Wellington: Bridget Williams Books, 2009) and co-editor with Erika Wolf of Early New Zealand Photography: Images and Texts (Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 2012).